For effective management of water and wastewater infrastructure, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA) has long emphasized the significant role of risk in prioritizing and optimizing asset management decisions. High risk assets are defined as assets with a high probability of failure (e.g. soon to fail, old, poor condition) and high consequences of failure (e.g. environmental impact, high expense, safety concerns, social disruption). In practice, the consequences of failure are often estimated by experts through a Delphi method. However, the estimation of the probability of failure has been challenging as it requires the thorough analysis of the historical condition assessment data, repair and replacement records, and other factors influencing the deterioration of the asset. The most common predictor in estimating the probability of failure is calendar age. However, a simple reliance on calendar age as a basis for estimating the asset's deterioration pattern completely ignores the different aging characteristics influenced by various operational and environmental conditions. This paper introduces a new approach of using ‘real age’ in estimating the probability of failure. Unlike the traditional calendar age method, the real age represents the adjusted age based on the unique operational and environmental conditions of the asset. Depending on the individual deterioration pattern, the real age could be higher or lower than its calendar age. Using the concept of real age, the probability of failure of an asset can be more accurately estimated.

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